History of Homeless Adolescent Population in the United States

Historyof Homeless Adolescent Population in the United States

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Homelessis a term used to refer to ‘without a home’. In most nations, agroup of people live in the streets or other inappropriate places asthey lack a place to call home. Most of these groups are made ofyouths who might have found themselves in the streets due to varioussituations. Most of the teenagers and young people opt for thestreets due to the unpleasant conditions back at home, others werethrown away by their parents at a tender age, and others gotthemselves into the situation due to other reasons. In the UnitedStates, the number of homeless youths is hard to determine as theykeep shifting their residence, and they mingle with the generalpopulation (Skogan,1992).It is also difficult to establish a better definition of homeless andrunaway and also to distinguish between the two. However, thepopulation estimate of homeless youths adds up to over 1million,while that of the runaways and the ‘thrownaways’ falls betweenone million and one million seven hundred annually.

Thehistory of the Homeless and the Thrownaway in the United States

Today’shomelessness dates back to the 1640s. Even with the change in thepolicies governing this group of individuals, documentation ofhomeless and thrownaway youths in the US has been done since the1640s. These groups were taken care of by the communities as it wasconsidered immoral to neglect them this accounted for the lowpopulation of the homeless to numbers lower than 20,000. In the1820s-‘30s, rural-urban migration peaked due to the industrialrevolution, and this also saw an increase in the number of homelessand thrownaway youths. Some of these youths opted for the streets dueto the financial status of their parents and, therefore, had to lookfor alternative sources of funds. This exposed them to sexual abuse,prostitution and drug abuse. In the 1850s, documentation was madeofficial, and the government started forming policies to protect thisgroup. Today, the population of the homeless youths add up to 1 to1.7million per year with around 20,000 youths aged below 24 living inthe streets of New York. This is mostly attributed to physical abuse,financial instability, irresponsible parenthood, violence at home andneglect by the parents due to disability. 40% of the homeless youthsare LGBTs chased away due to their sexuality.

Accordingto Flowers (2010), there are various classifications of runaways. Onesuch classification classifies them as running to, running from,thrown out and forsaken. The ‘running to’ are those that escapethe constrained environment of their homes to seek freedom andexcitement. The ‘running from’ are those that flee home due tothe harsh conditions such as fights and quarrels they do this toseek emotional freedom. The ‘thrown out’ are those that forced toleave home, their parents might chase them due to their conditionssuch as mental disability. The ‘forsaken’ are those that run awaydue to lack of support from the parents, especially on finance. Theabandoned type of runaway youths moves from home to go and work tosatisfy their needs.

TheAction of the government towards the situation of homeless youths

TheChild Welfare Agency (CWA) and the Juvenile Justice Courts wereresponsible for handling the needs of the run away from the twentiethcentury to the 1960s. A change was later experienced in the 1970sthrough a discernible move towards civic omission of programs thatassist the youths that break the law and those that commit offensessuch as running away. The law underwent numerous changes since thento cover this group of vulnerable. The Congress implemented theRunaway Youth Act of 1974 in the year 1974 as Title III of theYouthful Justice and Crime Prevention Act with the aim of helping therunaway youths outside the Youthful courts and the CWA. The mostcurrent advance in the law concerning the homeless and the thrownaway was the establishment of the Reconnecting Homeless Act of 2008.The program formed under the RHY Act was called the ReconnectingHomeless Youth Program, and this has been responsible for fundingother programs that target the homeless and the thrown away youths.Some of the programs funded comprise of the Street Outreach package,the Intermediate Living program, and the Elementary Center program(Alcantara, 2013).

Lifein the Streets: How the Homeless Youths Live

Variousorganizations have come up to help the homeless youths with somebeing accommodated in the children’s homes and rehabilitationcenters. However, on the streets, these youths have engaged inactivities such as prostitution and drug peddling for sustenance. Inmid to curb these vices, the government has formed various Acts toprotect them and assist them. Various programs have also beenestablished.

TheBasic Center Program is responsible for about forty thousand to fiftythousand homeless youths annually. The Transitional Living programhandles about 3000-4000 youths but mainly focuses on the older agesof between 16 and 22 years or even more aged (Scanlon,2014).The Street Outreach program, on the other hand, provides thenecessities to the street youths and more especially those who havebeen subjected to violence such as sexual abuse and exploitation.


Alcantara,A. (2013). Runaway and homeless youth: Demographics and programs.

Flowers,R. (2010). Street kids the lives of runaway and the thrownaway teens.Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland &amp.

Scanlon,K. (2014).&nbspSocialhousing in Europe.John Wiley &amp Sons.

Skogan,W. G. (1992).&nbspDisorderand Decline: Crime and the spiral of decay in American neighborhoods.Univ of California Press.